Does The Happy Buffet Chinese Restaurant Count?

The traditional gift for a 20th wedding anniversary is China.  As I sit here on the eve of my 20th wedding anniversary, I imagine the reason China is the traditional gift is because by 20 years, all you have left in your China cabinet is two chipped plates, one intact cereal bowl, three tea cups, and two saucers from the China you got as a wedding gift 20 years before.  At least, that’s what I have left.  Note to self – don’t rely on China from Big Lots to last as long as your marriage.

But who knew that my marriage would last 20 years?  I mean, of course, you don’t go into marriage thinking of it as a 90 day probationary period, after which you decide if it’s going to work out.  You don’t go up to the altar after the wedding and sign papers indicating if he snores, farts, or belches more than 10 times in the first month, you get a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to run the hell out and start over.

I think 20 years is a big deal.  My parents were married nine years, and when I got married, as much as I wanted it to last forever, I thought if I got past nine years, I’d be happy, no matter what happened.  I would have given it the Old College Try.

20 years.

There is a lot of life that happens in 20 years.

We’ve survived unemployment.

We’ve survived bankruptcy.

We’ve survived the loss of both of our fathers.

We’ve survived the loss of my sister.

We’ve survived the loss of five babies to miscarriage.

We’ve survived having a baby prematurely.

We’ve survived having a child move out on her own.

We’ve survived job transfers.

We’ve survived moves.

We’ve survived medical crises – for both of us.

We’ve survived each other.  Because you know, no matter how in love you are, there are things about each other you aren’t going to like.  And somehow, if you want things to work, you learn to live with the things you don’t like, get over the things you hate, and remember the things that made you fall in love in the first place.

And here I am, 20 years after the most wonderful day of my life – a day that truly feels like it could have occurred yesterday – and I know in my heart that 20 years is only the beginning.  There is not even the slightest kink in the bond that holds us together, and even on the days when I wish he’d find a very short pier upon which he should take a very long walk, I love That Guy.

Life has changed many times for us in 20 years, but it’s the things that stayed the same that keep us together.  I still get butterflies when I see him; quivery when I kiss him; and smiley when I hold his hand.

For better, for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health.  We’ve faced it all; we’ve survived it all; and we’ve made it here at our 20th anniversary to celebrate it all.

Happy Anniversary, Jim.  You are now and always will be the one and only true love of my life.

March 7 – Our Day That Will Live in Infamy

On March 7, 2003, I woke up, got Brighid up for school, got Eilis up and dressed, and got ready to drive Brighid to school.  My sister Bean lived with me, and she was still sleeping when I left.

When I came home, I went in to wake her up.  She had gone to bed early the night before, complaining of a stomach bug.  We had just gotten back from Florida two days earlier, and although Bean hadn’t gone with us, we fought a stomach bug throughout the vacation, so I naturally assumed she picked it up from Brighid.

I opened the bedroom door, found her laying in bed, and yelled at her.  Yep, I yelled.  She had promised to make Irish potatoes for Brighid’s Brownie meeting that afternoon.  The girls were going to have a bit of a St. Patrick’s Day party, and Bean volunteered to make her delicious candy treats.  When she told me she didn’t think she could get up to make them, I was furious.  I already had a full day stacked up, and now I had to run to the grocery store, pick up all the ingredients, and make the candy myself.  And, god damn it, I didn’t know the recipe.

Bundling up Eilis, I headed back out to the store.  I can’t really repeat all the nasty things I said about my sister, as I’ve already “god damned” once in this blog, and I’d hate to go overboard with the language.  Let’s just say there weren’t thoughts of sunshine and rainbows as I gathered up the ingredients, thinking of the burden my day now held with the added responsibilities of “Candy Maker”.

When I came home, I didn’t hear the shower.  She swore to me she would get in the shower while I was gone, and I had even gotten pissed enough to call my mother, put my mother on the phone, and make her tell Bean to get a shower.

I took Eilis downstairs, put her in her walker, and went upstairs, with all the venom of 1000 rattlesnakes waiting to spew forth at my sister.  I shoved open the bedroom door, and she wasn’t there.  Well, what the hell?  I knocked on the bathroom door, but I got no answer.  So I opened it.

While I will never, ever, ever, ever forget what I found when I opened the bathroom door, the thing I will remember forever and a day is the bitterness and anger I had for Bean that whole morning.  My last words to her were mean, hate filled, and nasty.

And I never got to take them back.  Or make up for them.  Or let her know I didn’t mean them – it was the frustration speaking.

The best I could do to take back the things I said was to write her eulogy, reminding myself as I reminded everyone else of the good person she was.

Bean is still the best person I have ever known.  We got along like oil and water sometimes, but honestly, there is no heart bigger; no soul gentler; no person kinder than my sister.

And I miss her as much now as I did the first minute I realized I didn’t have her anymore.

Bat Wings, Back Fat, and Other Body Anomalies that Make You Want Barbecue

The sausage you see hanging in the photo above is not found at the Italian market in South Philly.  It is found hanging from my shoulder.  I have one on each side.  Not that I have something against sausage, but I want them gone.

Last summer, I started what I had hoped would be a series of plastic surgery procedures designed to help me get rid of the remnants of my formerly morbidly obese self.  I had a big, huge hanging belly; droopy, saggy boobs; sausage arms; and enough rolls on my back to hide Osama Bin Laden and the entire al Quaeda team.  My breast lift healed in record time, and I have very few physical indication that I had anything done – the scars are minimal, the boobs are in the right place, and it’s all good.

My tummy tuck recovery is epic.  Seriously, I could write a War and Peace sized novel on what a crappy healer I was – and I blame that on the selective hearing loss I suffer from when it comes to medical instructions.  I’m fine when the pediatrician tells me to fill a kid with fluids and give them Tylenol.  That, I have no problem hearing.  But when a doctor tells me that I have to not lift, not bend, not travel far; well, I don’t exactly catch ALL of the words – I just know he said something about lifting, bending, and traveling.

So, because I took so darn long to heal from my tummy tuck (six months, including four on a wound VAC), I think my surgeon was a bit leery about doing any additional procedures.  He wanted to make sure my wound was completely healed, free of infection, totally closed, blessed by the Pope, consecrated by the Dalai Lama, and prayed over by a Voodoo High Priest.

Done!

Next Thursday, I’m going under the knife again.  One day after my 20th wedding anniversary, I hope to begin the final chapter on the road to the new me that I found myself on almost five years ago.

Wish me luck.  Wish Dr. Veitia luck, because, after all, he has to deal with me.  And let the fun begin!